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Joseph Fiedler
The Pulitzer & Me!
posted:
Cover of the New York Times Book Review -illustration of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. AD Steve Heller called me up when he got the art just to tell me that he was staring at the shoes! Me? I liked the knee-patch!


The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$10,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal. Newspaper publisher Pulitzer gave money in his will to Columbia University to launch a journalism school and establish the Prize. It allocated $250,000 to the prize and scholarships. He specified "four awards in journalism, four in letters and drama, one in education, and four traveling scholarships.” After his death, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded June 4, 1917; they are now announced each April.
 
One hears a lot about the importance of gratitude these days and I was just thinking about mine.  By now I imagine many of you know how I feel regarding validation and to me the Pulitzer Prize carries an extra special meaning. To a semi-country boy, it signifies, in no small way, a “scraping of the boots” as it were, and as a gold standard in human achievement, it’s second to none. Forget what you think about awards and accolades, to me, this is the granddaddy of prizes, well, the MacArthur's not too shabby.

Anyway, I'm not in a lot of important collections nor can I be said to have collectors in any meaningful way so who would have thought that my artwork would be owned by not only 2 but also ALMOST 3 Pulitzer Prize winners?! But as it turns out I have garnered that great honor and I am very grateful for it. Firstly, Prize winning syndicated cartoonist Signe Wilkinson [Philadelphia Daily News] bought an editorial piece that I had done for the Philadelphia Inquirer [AD Jessica Helfand]. She had run into Jessica on the elevator and saw my art, which Jessica had been carrying and bought it. Secondly, Angela’s Ashes/Tis author, the late Frank McCourt bought my image that ran with his review in the New York Times Book Review [AD Steven Heller] right out of the SOI show that year, which I had been lucky enough to get in. His first outing got him the Prize! Wow! My third shot was when I did a book review piece for the Chicago Tribune for Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, written by Diane McWhorter 2001. The editor wanted to buy the art as a gift for Ms. McWhorter who later won the Pulitzer but wouldn’t go for a mere $500.00. Damn! It was that close. I had a hunch she would win. This was all back during the analog days and in looking for the tear sheets for this post, I realized that I had made so many more paintings under heavy dealines that it's hard to believe that I actually had done them all. Each one is Alkyd painted on Strathmore 500 series, 4 ply vellum.
 
So there, add that to the list of Small Thrills.
 
Pulitzer, McCourt and Wilkinson.
Piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer that Signe Wilkinson bought. As far as I can recall, the story was about a road trip.

Image for the Chicago Tribune Book Review for Carry Me Home by Diane McWhorter.

Thank You note from Frank McCourt 1997.



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Fiedler is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!